Leadership in the Age of Diversity and Inclusion

The MeToo movement, and BlackLivesMatter movement were catalyzed by a specific event. Then snowballed into a movement. What these are evidence of is a fundamental eruption. This is what happens when a part of the collective is silenced. Diversity is now something that all companies include in their values, but don’t truly understand what it means.

Lets take a look at the diversity situation

What has created a level of exclusion that has resulted in sector of the society? Namely, the young, disenfranchised, the female, and the black person. I believe it comes down to an embedded bias. And this happens at an individual and collective level. And then further strengthened overtime. Coming from amount resounding silence on these topics.

Cultivating inclusion is a deliberate act by everyone. Especially leaders in the business. Being inclusive is not automatic or spontaneous. So how does one do this? There are many barriers and enablers to inclusion that have been suggested.

The barrier to inclusion; Ignorance

It is leadership that has to make a contribution to addressing this issue and ensure that all voices are heard. There are a few precursors:

  1. Self-awareness (leaders need to understand their own biases, conscious and unconscious)
  2. Seek to find the balance of views – deliberately find the alternate views to join their conversations
  3. Become attuned to differences (cultural intelligence) and integrate this into the learning agility of the team
  4. Challenge the thinking patterns – create platforms for collaboration.
  5. Foster crucial conversations – listen and listen and listen

The enabler to inclusion is Care

Focus on establishing a constructive leadership presence and practice. The responsibility of leaders is to cultivate the maturity of those in their charge. Maturity means the quality of being predisposed to serving that which goes beyond self-interest. Which means being liberated from the bondage of self-interest and self-insufficiency.

Great leaders, who cultivate maturity, unlock potential and enable great people. They do this through the Care and Growth of their people. This simple, yet powerful formula was first revealed in research conducted by Etsko Schuitema in the 1980’s in South Africa. And this was subsequently confirmed in the action research.

Diversity and Inclusion with Care & Growth

What is Care? is benevolent intent – having the capacity to have the best interest of those in your charge at heart. The effort we need to make is being considerably available for them. And Growth? Well growth is growth. It culminates in maturity. Growth can be achieved through the application of the three variables of empowerment. These are Means, Ability and Accountability.

Care is unconditional concern for the other. But how is this accomplished? It starts with knowing the person as a person. This form of sincere validation is the starting point. Next is spending time. This means giving them time and attention which demonstrates that they are important. You need to stay curious and intrigued by what they have to offer. You need to remain cognizant that they have so much to teach you. Your presence has to be both genuine and constant. This presence helps people to feel appreciated. While we think it’s obvious, it is not. We have to make a considerable effort. Thereafter, it inevitably unleashes something quite unique and special.

The impact of spending time

When a leader spends a proportionate amount of time with each person, they would feel validated. When you sincerely care for your people then ‘managing diversity’ is immaterial. Because you would have acknowledged their individual diversity. You have embraced and celebrated it. These simple actions by the leader demonstrates that you value your people. It signals that they have a seat at your table. Then finding their voice becomes an easy step. Inclusion is the result of your Care. It is simple.

We need to truly understand that females, black people, young people and in fact all people have value. And all deserve to have a platform for that value to be demonstrated without constraint. The new normal is INCLUSION.

We will find the solutions to our emerging challenges from the most unexpected sources. Therefore, we must enable and encourage every voice to add to the solutions.

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